Your experience with the modern Evangelical?


#1

Hello all,

My wife and I have been trying to dispel the misconceptions found in Evangelical/ fundamentalist thought regarding Catholics on another forum called “In the pursuit of God.”

To be honest, we have are not sure if our efforts have made much impact especially with some of the hardliners.

We have found that they tend to gloss over “subversive” Scriptures like John 6, have no respect or understanding for the Apostolic Fathers and read posts with the proverbial equivalent to theological “beer goggles.”

My question is this: Have any of you had long term success with Evangelicals/ Fundamentalists or SDA’s in a forum based Apologetics setting?

In Christ

Bill


#2

Define success.

If you mean convert them to Catholicism, no. For two reasons – first of all you’re dealing with people who are committed to being wrong, and will invent reasons to maintain their positions.

Secondly, they aren’t amenable to logic, history, and so on – arguments simply slide off them.

On the other hand, by your demenor and logic you may persuade others who are listening.

Now, if you mean successful at defending against their attacks, that’s another story. There are two very effective tactics.

The first is to “read the book.” When they tell you “The Bible says such-and-such” and quote a verse or two, go to the Bible and read that verse in context – the whole chapter at least. You will often find they are quoting out of context and no fair reading of the whole chapter will support their interpretations.

The second is to ask, “But you admit you could be wrong, right?” If they say, “No” they are claiming Infallibility (that’s what infallibility means – unable to be wrong.) But they can’t claim that – they have to deny the Kharisma of Infallibility, because they have to claim the Catholic Church had “fallen into error.”

If they say “Yes,” just say, “I prefer to get my religious instruction from the Church that has the Kharisma of Infallibility.”

And when they deny the Catholic Church is infallible, you ask, “But you admit you could be wrong, right?” :smiley:


#3

You might not have success at that moment, but something that you say could have an effect later in their life. Just because you don’t see the result of your work doesn’t mean that you haven’t planted a seed.:smiley:


#4

thanks to both of you… I also realize that ultimately conversion is up to the Holy Spirit and I am only sowing seeds but, their lack of “thinking things through” drives me nuts.

In Christ

Bill


#5

Two things I would recommend:

  1. *By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition *by Mark Shea.

  2. The free audio downloads at www.biblechristiansociety.com/download

Hope this helps!


#6

I am a former evangelical Christian, and I want to encourage you to not give up. Keep up the apologetics and the testimony!

I am Catholic today because of a lot of good Catholics who continued to talk to me not only about apologetics but about their personal relationship with Jesus in the Catholic Church.

Remember that evangelicals have been taught from birth that they are right. It’s really, really hard to get past that. Think about how you feel when someone tries to convince you that your beliefs are flawed. It’s not that they’re being stubborn and closed-minded. They’re just committed to believing what is right and they don’t want to fall into error.

But for that reason, I believe that evangelicals, of all the Christians, are more likely to embrace Catholicism once they become convinced that it’s right. They have been taught all their lives to give up everything for Jesus, even their lives. When they realize that Jesus is leading them into the Catholic Church, His Church, they will give up everything.

Also, the fact that evangelicals know their Bibles is another reason that they will become Catholic if continue to they talk with knowledgeable Catholics (like you). The Catholic Church is completely Biblical, and they will see that. My husband and I saw it. So did our daughter. It’s the people that DON’T know their Bibles who will be hard to convince. But if you truly know your Bible, you will see the entire salvation history and eventually understand that the Catholic Church is part of God’s plan.

Please don’t get discouraged. I agree that you will plant seeds that may not grow to maturity for many years. I think the first seeds to becoming Catholic were planted in my life back when I was just a child, and my parents bought some Catholic school readers at a garage sale. I loved those books and the Catholic stories. And all along the way in my life, other Catholics planted more seeds, often just by being nice and not saying anything about their faith.

It took forty years for me, but it was worth the wait. Please be willing to wait 40 years, at least, for the people you talk to.


#7

I have watched a number of Evangelicals on other forums go there to teach Catholics the error of their ways, come to a grudging admission that things aren’t as black and white as they thought, and finally recognize that the Catholic Church is indeed what she claims to be, and become Catholics. I think a couple might be on these forums now.

Those are the people you should be posting for. Not the hard-liners, but those who are open to truth. The hard-liners will actually help that process along by providing useful contrast.


#8

As a former evangelical myself, the two best ways to reason are with scripture and the early church. The early Church very quickly became ‘Catholic’ and it is not too hard to demonstrate that things like the sacraments and apostolic succession were there even in the NT. Also showing that Catholics love Jesus, the Trinity and the scriptures while not over-emphasizing things like devotion to Mary and the Saints is also useful to avoid misunderstanding.


#9

The loudest voices you will hear are those with the most opposition to your voice.

This is why it is discouraging, but there are some who are reading who have open hearts and are honestly seeking truth. Don’t be discouraged by those who do not care about truth and want everyone to be wrong. It is frustrating to talk with many non-catholics and hear outright hate, confusion, denial of truth and obstinate ignorance, yet there are honest Christians out there seeking.

I make a hobby of visiting Pastors and have talked to dozens, I have so far found one who seems honest, who keeps talking to me and has even accepted a book from me. Who knows maybe I planted a seed as that is all I can do.

In Christ,
Scylla


#10

Hi Bill,

I’ve had some experience myself in defending the Catholic faith on a predominantly Protestant online forum. My experience was that most of the people who are set in their beliefs are not likely to change. However, I did have the experience that at least two Protestants who I conversed with, and who had begun by making the standard anti-Catholic arguments, ended up having a much more respectful and positive view toward Catholics and the Catholic faith, partly as a result of our conversations. Also, I was able to point one Catholic board member toward some good resources which I think helped to strengthen his own faith journey. I didn’t go to this forum with the intention of converting anyone (in fact I didn’t even go there with the intention of discussing Catholicism, initially). But I do think that through some of my posts, the Holy Spirit may have at least softened a few hearts toward the Catholic faith.

Also, always remember that for every person who criticizes you or argues with you directly, there are probably several more people reading the conversation who never post at all, and who are a bit more open to persuasion from one side or the other. Your words may have an effect on them, even though you may never know it. So ultimately the best thing to do is to be charitable and patient, and if you get to the point where you can’t be charitable and patient anymore, then take a break from that forum for a while. (And believe me, I have reached that point myself several times, and unfortunately I didn’t always begin my break soon enough, and I probably said a few things in frustration on that other forum that I regret now.)

I hope that helps.

Paul


#11

I have also posted on non-Catholic forums. One thing - don’t always be “the outsider.”

Stick a link in your siggy to some good Catholic apologetics, and join in with the “games” threads. Show yourself to be a normal, fun-loving guy.

Also keep posting reasonable responses to the anti-Catholic stuff. Of course, never, ever, ever, ever lose your temper - always treat them with total respect, no matter what - and take breaks when you need them. If they start blattering you with Boettner’s List, don’t take the bait - just wait a couple of days until they get tired of themselves and then start a new thread dealing with one point - “Somebody the other day posted the following about the Catholic Church - this is a very common misunderstanding. Here’s what the Church really teaches about this issue.” And then turn off the notifications, because they will then go nuts all over you. But your post will remain there at the top for those who really want to know - and the fact that their co-religionists are saying totally irrational things about you will also be a factor, when they start to think it through for themselves.


#12

I’m a former Southern Baptist, and my whole family is still very devout Southern Baptist. I became Catholic in 2004. I was one who knew my Bible inside out. I didn’t really know very much about the Catholic Church. After a time away, I was getting ready to get more involved in church, but before I decided what denomination I was going to be, I felt that I had to at least give the Catholic Church a curssory look. Basically, I set out to show why the Catholic Church was wrong. I ended up becoming Catholic about 6 months after I began studying it.

The issue that really got me, and I find really frustrates my family when we’re having a discussion, is that of authority. Ask any evangelical why their individual interperation of scripture is correct, and they’ll say, “The Bible says…”. On, for example, baptism. Some believe you have to be baptised and others believe you don’t. Both sides will point to scripture and say the other side is interpreting it wrong. When confronted as to what special authority they have, none of them have an answer. I find this to be a good way to approach them. I hope this helps.


#13

The Achilles Heel of Protestantism is Infallibility. They must reject it – since if they admit it, they cannot justify breaking with the Catholic Church. But having rejected it, they cannot turn around and claim it for themselves.

The debate stopper is to ask an Evangelical Protestant, “Do you admit you could be wrong?”


#14

A lot Protestants talk a lot about being “BORN AGAIN” ask them,
how in the world can WATER play a role in this ?

Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of WATER and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Protestants interpretation is “conversion” = BORN AGAIN
Catholic interpretation is “Baptism” = BORN AGAIN

Now ask them what makes more sense, you might plant a seed.:smiley:


#15

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.